Here Are 7 Weeks of Easy Slow Cooker Meal Plans Loaded with Delicious Dinners

updated Nov 12, 2021
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Credit: Joe Lingeman

Fall is the season when I rely on my slow cooker more than any other. As we go from the bustle of back-to-school time to the rush of the holidays, the slow cooker is my tried and true answer to the dinner dilemma. Creating an easy meal plan centered around the slow cooker is a balm for an otherwise chaotic time. Do a little upfront prep, then hand the heavy lifting over to the slow cooker.

Follow these meal plans as written, or mix and match meals to suit your family’s tastes. What you’re guaranteed is a variety of family-friendly dinners that come together with hands-off slow cooking to give you time for whatever else you have on your busy schedule.

Credit: From Left to Right: Joe Lingeman, Ghazalle Badiozamani, Joe Lingeman, Ghazalle Badiozamani, Joe Lingeman

1. A Week of Easy Plant-Based Slow Cooker Dinners

This one-week meal plan relies on the slow cooker to make make plant-based eating extra-easy. Each of these five plant-based dinners (like burrito bowls and stuffed peppers) requires little to no upfront prep work and leans on the slow cooker for the heavy lifting. There’s a good chance you’ll have some leftovers, which can be repurposed into lunch throughout the week or stashed in the freezer for another week.

Get the plan: A Week of Easy Plant-Based Slow Cooker Dinners

Credit: Photo: Joe Lingeman; Food Stylist: Cyd McDowell

2. How I Prep a Week of Easy Slow Cooker Meals for Two

The slow cooker is great for whipping up big-batch meals, but it is also extremely helpful when you’re cooking for just a couple of people. Not only will this plan set you up with slow cooker dinners, like chicken parm meatballs and creamy butternut squash and sweet potato soup, but it also offers up smart ideas for repurposing leftovers into brand-new meals.

Get the plan: How I Prep a Week of Easy Slow Cooker Meals for Two

Credit: Joe Lingeman

3. A Week of Plant-Based Meals from the Slow Cooker

Your slow cooker makes easy, hands-off work of cooking plant-based staples like beans, rice, and a huge array of vegetables. Whether you follow a fully plant-based diet or you’re trying to eat less meat, this slow cooker meal plan makes it easy with favorites like golden chickpea soup, veggie burrito bowls, and caponata pasta. And if you want to get a jump-start, it also includes a one-hour step-by-step meal prep guide.

Get the plan: A Week of Plant-Based Meals from the Slow Cooker

Credit: From Left to Right: Joe Lingeman, Christine Han

4. A Week of Cheap and Healthy Slow Cooker Dinners

This plan leans on inexpensive pantry staples that feel healthful and nourishing. Serve filling and protein-packed golden chickpea soup swirled with Greek yogurt and a squeeze of fresh lemon one night and an Italian-inspired chicken and broccoli bowl another night. Round out the week with make-ahead slow cooker stuffed cabbage rolls, chicken posole, and hearty black bean chili.

Credit: From Left to Right: Guy Ambrosino, Emma Christensen, Joe Lingeman, Ghazalle Badiozamani, Leela Cyd

5. A Week of Slow Cooker Mediterranean Diet Dinners

The slow cooker is one of the best tools for getting Mediterranean Diet-inspired meals on the table. The diet — based on seafood, produce, and healthy fats — is well-suited to many of our favorite slow cooker dinners. The veggie-packed slow cooker minestrone makes enough for dinner one night and lunch later in the week. The gentle heat of the slow cooker makes the most tender salmon — it takes time, but the flavor is worth it! Finish this week’s plan with citrusy lemon and artichoke chicken from the slow cooker and a hearty, vegetarian chili for cool autumn evenings.

Credit: From Left to Right: Diana Yen, Joe Lingeman

6. 5 Healthy Slow Cooker Dinners to Make Before Summer Ends

This slow cooker meal plan leans on the last gasp of fresh summer vegetables for a week of wholesome and affordable dinners. Ratatouille is an end-of-summer staple; if you’re still avoiding your stove, the slow cooker is the way to go. Use the final harvest of your patio-grown basil for slow cooker pesto chicken. If your neighbors are still dropping off zucchini, peppers, and tomatoes, use the veg in curried vegetable and chickpea stew or slow cooker veggie burrito bowls.

Credit: Joe Lingeman

7. A Week of Back-to-School Slow Cooker Dinners

Get back into the school groove with a week of easy slow cooker dinners. These family-friendly meals take mere minutes to prep, and leave you with leftovers for easy lunches. Chicken teriyaki made in the slow cooker is simple to make with honey, ginger, and pantry staples. The adjustment back to class can be hard some days, so serve a cozy and creamy potato soup to comfort everyone. Kids and grown-ups alike will love build-your-own taco night made with easy slow cooker pulled pork.